Chronic fatigue

Chronic fatigue

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Chronic fatigue as the sole symptom can arise together with a wide variety of illnesses, but can also arise from stress, psychological problems or overloading. Chronic fatigue syndrome, on the other hand, includes symptoms in addition to chronic fatigue, such as headache, difficulty concentrating, joint pain and much more. Chronic fatigue syndrome is also known as CFS - chronic fatigue syndrome.

Chronic fatigue is often associated with an odyssey of visits to the doctor. Whoever suffers from it really suffers. Every day is a challenge and involves a great effort, which is usually felt to be insurmountable. Chronic fatigue is defined as follows: it has been going on for at least six months and cannot be positively influenced by rest and relaxation.

The chronic fatigue syndrome

The causes of the chronic fatigue syndrome have not yet been established. In particular, viral causes, but also fungi and environmental toxins and much more are associated with chronic fatigue. The diagnosis is very difficult. There are no special examination methods or clear laboratory tests that facilitate the diagnosis of chronic fatigue or CFS. Only when the patient has suffered from the exhaustion for more than six months and no cause (e.g. burnout or depressed mood) can be found, is there a suspicion of a chronic fatigue syndrome.
The main symptom, as the name suggests, is chronic fatigue. In addition, there is sometimes a slight increase in temperature, painful swelling of the lymph nodes, sore throat, sore throat (pharyngitis), headache, myalgia (muscle pain) and sleep disorders. Women are affected more often than men, especially in the third and fourth decade of life.

Cause - Pfeiffer's glandular fever

Chronic fatigue can result from Pfeiffer's glandular fever. The acute phase of the disease, triggered by the Epstein Barr Virus, which is accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, swelling of the lymph nodes, general feeling of sickness and exhaustion, is over and those affected are very tired and exhausted. Everyday life can hardly be conquered and sleeping does not provide any relief. This can be so massive that the patient suddenly falls asleep while sitting or even standing, out of nowhere.

The connection between glandular fever and chronic fatigue is suspected, but has not yet been scientifically proven. The fact is that the pathogen, the Epstein Barr Virus, which belongs to the herpes viruses, settles in the body after the illness and has remained there. He doesn't have to do any damage there, he doesn't have to wake up, but he can do it. This usually happens when, for example, the immune system is somewhat weakened in stressful times.

Confused with fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia, a condition that primarily affects women and in which the symptoms include pain in the muscles, stiffness, headache and sleep disorders, is also associated with chronic fatigue. With the help of a detailed medical history and certain examinations, CFS can be distinguished from fibromyalgia.

Suspected: viral causes

Chronic fatigue is usually preceded by an infection in the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract. That is why post-infectious or post-viral complaints are often spoken of.
Not only the Epstein Barr virus is seen in connection with the chronic fatigue syndrome. Other herpes viruses, coxsackie viruses, varicella zoster viruses, rubella viruses, measles virus and cytomegaloviruses - all these pathogens are suspected of causing chronic fatigue.

Suspected: non-viral causes

In connection with chronic fatigue, non-viral causes such as Candida albicans, Chlamydia and Yersinia are discussed.

Other causes

Chronic fatigue can occur after illnesses such as flu or an infectious disease. Other causes are iron deficiency, hypothyroidism, stress, low blood pressure (hypotension), permanent overload, depressed mood, cancer, environmental pollution and mold. Multiple sclerosis can also show up as chronic fatigue.

Tips for minor complaints

If chronic fatigue occurs as a result of an infection, rest is definitely the order of the day. Maybe those affected have not recovered properly. Vitamins and / or minerals that the body used up during the illness and that must now be replenished are often missing. These are, for example, vitamin C, vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and much more. However, no self-medication should be undertaken here. A doctor or alternative practitioner can provide advice.
If low blood pressure is the reason for the chronic exhaustion, regular brush massages, Kneipp showering, exercise in the fresh air, rosemary baths and sufficient drinking in the form of still water can help.

If there is a permanent overload, those affected should get help to restructure their everyday lives: Who can do work? Which daily burdens can be reduced or completely eliminated? When are rest breaks possible? Everyone needs periods of rest, even if, for example, they only stop for five minutes every one to two hours. But this regular "pausing" should then become a daily ritual. A vacation can help, but it doesn't always have to last a week or two. A day trip or a weekend in the thermal baths or a hotel in the countryside can already provide relief.

Preventive measures

A balanced, vitamin-rich diet is important to protect yourself from fatigue and exhaustion. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and little animal. Furthermore, make sure you get enough sleep and exercise outdoors every day. This does not have to be sports. Regular walks in the fresh air contribute to a healthy immune system.
A balanced relationship between stress and relaxation is also important. Relaxation procedures such as autogenic training, yoga or progressive muscle relaxation help here. Even small breaks, which regularly interrupt everyday life, help to avoid stressing yourself too much.

Unfortunately, no curative therapy for chronic fatigue

Unfortunately, no curative therapy is known for the presence of chronic fatigue. Since the causes of this have not yet been clearly clarified, both diagnosis and the treatment aimed at are difficult.

Light forms relieve heat and sleep. A high-calorie diet, such as cocoa, pudding or the like, is good for some - while others recover better in a fasting clinic. In any case, time is a big factor. Every patient should have the time to recover that they need. There are no standard values ​​here.
Patients with severe forms of chronic fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome are usually tied to the bed. Those affected are no longer able to get up. Just going to the toilet or getting dressed means a lot of effort. Doctors suspect that the pronounced, bad form of CFS is not only caused by a cause, but that several factors have to coincide. For example a virus and additionally yeast or mold and / or environmental toxins.

Total overwhelming in today's time

What is certain is that those affected can no longer cope with the fast pace of life. A total overwhelming occurs. The many stimuli and requirements of everyday life and society are a problem for them. You can no longer keep up with the speed of life. The concentration is getting worse, stimulants like tea and coffee no longer help.

Holism - naturopathy

Because the chronic fatigue or CFS are complex events and can have a wide variety of causes, a holistic concept for treating or alleviating the symptoms is ideal. In naturopathy, therapists always strive to treat the patient holistically, i.e. to bring body and psyche into harmony.
The body, whose immune system has gone off the rails, needs antibodies such as enzymes. These are obtained from papaya and pineapple, for example. Enzymes are so-called catalysts in the body that are used for a wide variety of tasks. Among other things, they help to deal with inflammation spots faster. Colostrum (previous milk) also has a strengthening effect on the immune system. This has a modulating and not a stimulating effect, which can have a positive effect on a weakened organism.
In addition, lymph, spleen and thymus should be supported with suitable preparations. Here anthroposophic medicine has many suitable means at hand. In the case of chronic exhaustion, this must be done very gently and carefully. Accompanying help acupuncture and foot reflexology therapy.
Furthermore, those affected often need B vitamins, preferably the entire B complex, since this is extremely important for the nervous system. Vitamin C and zinc are important for defense. All of this should not just be taken care of and taken in the supermarket, but should be discussed with experienced therapists. Iron is just as important. Vitamin and iron levels can be checked in a large blood count.

Rose root is a plant that can help those affected well. It can improve mental and physical performance. What can also strengthen the body a little is the taiga root, also called Eleutherococcus.
Aurum metallicum (gold) is used in homeopathy so that the sun shines more in life. The opponent of Aurum is Argentum nitricum (silver). Aurum is taken in the morning and Argentum in the evening. This creates a balance between day and night.
With any type of exhaustion, a detailed medical history is essential to get closer to the causes. Serious diseases must be ruled out before naturopathic treatment. (sw, fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Stephen Gluckman: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MSD Manual, (accessed Aug 26, 2019), MSD
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Great Britain: Chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy): diagnosis and management, Clinical Guideline, 2007, (accessed 26.08.2019), NICE
  • Federal Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: What is the CFS, (accessed 26.08.2019), Fatigatio
  • Michael R. Wasserman: Fatigue, MSD Manual, (accessed August 26, 2019), MSD
  • Erika Baum, Norbert Donner-Banzhoff, Peter Maise: Fatigue, S3 guideline, German Society for General Medicine and Family Medicine (DEGAM), (accessed on August 26, 2019), AWMF

ICD codes for this disease: G93.3, R53ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

Video: New research into chronic fatigue syndrome (January 2023).